Young People Today. Time to Act Now.
Why adolescents and young people need comprehensive sexuality education and sexual and reproductive health services in Eastern and Southern Africa
“As we approach 2015, it is time for urgent action by our governments, young people and civil society to re-affirm the rights of young people to a better future. We have a duty to make good quality HIV and sexuality education and sexual and reproductive health services a reality for all.”
Professor Sheila Tlou, Director, UNAIDS Regional Support Team (East and Southern Africa)
UNESCO, UNAIDS, UNFPA, UNICEF, WHO, bilateral agencies and civil society organisations have joined forces to engage ministries of health and education in a formal commitment to HIV prevention and sexual and reproductive health for all adolescents and young people that has the potential to change the course of the HIV epidemic in Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA). At its core, the initiative will aim to make good quality HIV and sexuality education and youth-friendly HIV and sexual and reproductive health services widely available. The initiative sets a new precedent in the region by getting the education and health sectors to work together on a common agenda to support adolescents and young people in response to HIV and other sexual and reproductive health needs.
WHY THIS INITIATIVE?
The continuing high rates of HIV prevalence in the region, the high numbers of new infections amongst young people, the high levels of unintended pregnancy as well as other unmet sexual and reproductive health needs remain of significant concern. Access to comprehensive sexuality education and to sexual and reproductive health services, whilst essential for promoting good learning outcomes and health and for preventing illness, is still very limited for adolescents and young people.
The commitment initiative is being led by a High Level Group composed of regional leaders in education, sexual and reproductive health and rights and development along with youth representatives. It is chaired by Prof Sheila Tlou, former Minister of Health of Botswana and Director of the UNAIDS Regional Support Team for ESA. Members of the High Level Group include: H.E Festus Mogae (Chairman, Champions for an HIV Free Generation); H.E Salma Kikwete, First Lady of the United Republic of Tanzania; and David Coltart, former Minister of Education, Zimbabwe amongst others.
At regional level the Southern African Development Community and the East African Community play a key role in facilitating intergovernmental dialogue. A Technical Coordinating Group comprising UN partners, bilateral and multilateral development agencies and civil society organizations have been guiding and supporting the High-Level Group.
Country-level validation meetings and two sub-regional consultation meetings have been organised to ensure civil society and government inputs to the report and campaign. All recommendations were presented to the High Level Group and policy-level decision makers and are endorsed by all partners through their partnership in the regional report and this campaign. A draft of the final commitment is under development with inputs from all partners. The campaign will culminate in a historic ceremony attended by ministers from the 21 countries signing the commitment at ICASA in Dec 2013.
Young People Today – regional report
To read the summary report click here.